It’s among Australia’s most popular overseas holiday destinations – but the island paradise of Bali has a more sinister side.
New figures reveal one Australian dies on Bali every nine days, while hundreds more need consular help after experiencing problems.
Consular officials say alcohol and drugs fuel many of the accidents, while nightclub fights are among the biggest causes of trouble for thousands of Aussies who fly to the tropical island every year.
Information released by the Department of Foreign Affairs reveals 39 Australians died in Bali in 2011-12. Another 93 sought consular help after being taken to hospital, while 36 were arrested, 18 jailed and eight needed support after being attacked.
The consulate is advised of all deaths but refused to detail causes for privacy reasons.
It only advised of admissions to hospital or arrests where those involved seek to have Australian officials contacted and neither Bali’s main Sanglah Hospital nor police could say how many Australians were admitted or arrested in the past year.
“The most common reasons for illness or hospitalisation amongst young people who travel to Bali are injuries due to motorbike accidents and nightclub fights,” a DFAT spokesman said.
“Factors that cause these accidents are inexperience, unfamiliar road and traffic conditions and alcohol/drug consumption. Nightclub fights can often break out between friends and may be fuelled by drugs and alcohol.”
He said traffic accidents were the biggest cause of deaths after natural causes or pre-existing conditions and cautioned many people in scooter accidents failed to realise that travel insurance only covered the rider and any passenger if the rider held a motorbike licence.
He said lack of insurance, lack of coverage for pre-existing illnesses or cash to pay medical bills was also one of the key reasons Australians sought consular help.
“We have recently seen a marked increase in cases involving young male travellers, 20 to 30, with mental health issues,” he said.
Consular officials are also regularly called by Australians who have overstayed their tourist visas by weeks or even years or to conduct other welfare checks.
It is also common for Australians to be reported missing on the island, often when travellers fail to report a change in circumstances, such as meeting someone, to those travelling with them.